Brother of Paul Whelan imprisoned in Russia, fears parents won't live to see him released

The family of American Trevor Reed is celebrating tonight after being freed - for a Russian prisoner.  The swap is a relief for one family but turmoil for another.

"If the stories about having tuberculosis are true, then, the sooner he gets healthcare of the better, that’s great news. Obviously we’re extremely disappointed for Paul," said David Whelan.

David Whelan's brother, Paul Whelan of Novi, remains in a Russian prison tonight, accused of spying by the Russian government.

The prison swap is leading to more concern about Whelan's chances of being freed.

"I think they are not going to concede, so that’s really two options that are off the table for Paul," David said. "If there are concessions at the US government can make to get Paul’s release - they seem fewer than they were before."

Paul Whelan still has 16 years left in his sentence.

"I want my parents to see their son again," David said. "They are in their 80s, time is taking away. The longer he spends there, if he spends his entire 16-year sentence there, I don’t think they will be alive.

"So, fundamentally, that’s why I get up every morning. I do media activity with you, it’s to try and advocate and help with his awareness, for Paul’s case so that he can be with them."

Whelan says he was in Russia to attend a wedding and was never involved with any spying. David remembers the last time he talked to Paul back in 2018.

FOX 2: "Talk about and the last time you talked to Paul, the last communication you had with him?"

"Well, that would be, I've had two letters from him, the last time we spoke in 2018, he was going off for a holiday to Russia," David said. "But it was snowing in Michigan, so he was concerned about our elderly parents shoveling snow. He wanted to make sure I could get over there doing the Christmas break, to be there to help out, make sure they weren’t do anything foolish on the ice."

Hard to hold out hope tonight, but it's all the Whelan family has, as they wait and keep their focus on one thing - freedom.

"He struggles with being in a labor camp and having to make products there, working six days a week and those sorts of things," David said. "It’s hard to imagine that not only are you in a terrible prison system and terrible environment, but you’re also suffering this gross injustice at the same time."

After the release of Reed today, Paul Whelan spoke out saying he wishes more was being done to secure his release.

David Whelan says that he is glad President Joe Biden today pledged to continue efforts to bring his brother home.